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10 Online Financial Calculators You Never Knew That Could Make Your Life Easier

10 Online Financial Calculators You Never Knew That Could Make Your Life Easier

We make hundreds of financial decisions every day. Most are simple — do you want fries with that? — but some decisions can be quite complex. As you approach different phases of life, you may find yourself asking these questions, in need of guidance. There are a great many resources available online but I’ve highlighted my favorite 10 online financial calculators to make your life easier:

Should I Buy Or Lease?

The number of cars purchased by 18- to 34-year-olds fell nearly 30 percent from 2007 to 2011. This trend has continued with the rapid adoption of services like ZipCar so the importance of getting a good deal is more important than ever before. Use this calculator to weigh your options and make the best decision.

1 - Should I Buy Or Lease?

      (http://www.cars.com/go/advice/financing/calc/loanLeaseCalc.jsp?mode=full)

    How Much House Can I Afford?

    Likely the most significant purchase you’ll ever make, buying a home can be daunting. Give this calculator a workout in the early stages of your home search to ensure you factor in all expenses and land on a house budget that won’t leave you over extended.

    2 - How Much House Can I Afford?

        (http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/new-house-calculator.aspx)

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      When Will My Credit Card Be Paid Off?

      The average American household has more than $15,000 in credit card debt with average interest rates hovering around 17%. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, it’s critically important to develop a debt payoff plan and take a hard look at your credit card balances first. This powerful, easy to use tool allows you to input all your credit card balance and rate information to experiment with multiple pay down plans.

      3 - When Will My Credit Card Be Paid Off?

        (http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/debt-free/)

        How Close Am I To My Savings Goal?

        The power of setting goals cannot be overstated. The power of achieving those goals and raising the bar works wonders for your confidence. Financial goals are no different and this thorough calculator will keep you on track.

        4 - How CLose Am I To My Savings Goal?

            (http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/savings-goal-calculator-tool.aspx)

          What Happens If I Become Disabled?

          I’ve outlined before (

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          http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/8-crucial-financial-moves-make-your-30s.html) your most valuable asset is your future earnings potential. LifeHappens, a non-profit foundation for education, helps quantify the income protection you may be lacking with this tool. 5 - What Happens If I Become Disabled?

              (http://www.lifehappens.org/insurance-overview/disability-insurance/calculate-your-needs/)

            Am I Saving Enough For Retirement?

            The age-old question: how much do I need? After consulting your financial planner for a retirement analysis, plug your current retirement savings plan into this robust calculator and adjust as needed. Remember, you need to actually MAKE any desired savings plan changes!

            6 - Am I Saving Enough For Retirement?

                (http://www.bloomberg.com/personal-finance/calculators/retirement/)

              Will I Be Able To Afford College For The Kids?

              Admittedly, paying for your kids’ college can seem like a fantasy. The earlier you start saving, and saving intelligently, the more likely you are to reach your goal. My Father paid every penny of college tuition for me and my two brothers — hands down, there’s no greater gift. The College Board provides this analysis which considers very important factors like inflation and time horizon.

              7 - Will I Be Able To Afford College For The Kids?

                  (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/college-costs-calculator)

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                How Soon Until I Pay Off The Mortgage?

                Many online and TV pundits advocate for debt free living which, for most people, means eliminating the mortgage as your most significant liability. Whether you subscribe to this ideal or you simply want to accelerate payments, this tool will help shape your payoff plan. Keep in mind, if you have a “sweetheart” mortgage interest rate, you may be better off allocating your accelerated payments elsewhere.

                8 - How Soon Until I Pay Off The Mortgage?

                    (http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/mortgage_payoff_calculator/)

                  What Will It Cost to Care For My Elders?

                  It’s no secret the cost of medical care is on the rise. Some industry estimates peg the cost of a private nursing home room to double over the next 15 years. Hopefully your parents and grandparents have made ample arrangements to pay for these expenses. This calculator will help you evaluate the current and projected costs in your area. Don’t know if Mom and Dad are covered? The financial burden may fall on your shoulders so ask them!

                  9 - What Will It Cost To Care For My Elders?

                      (http://www.johnhancockinsurance.com/long-term-care/cost-of-long-term-care-calculator/index.html        

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                    10.  How Long Will I Live?

                    I can’t direct you to the fountain of youth but I can steer you towards this simple exercise the bright Ivy League minds at The Wharton School created. Certainly, it’s not perfect but it will give you an idea of life expectancy so you can plan for an adequate retirement, debt management, life insurance funding, legacy planning and a slew of other important financial decisions.

                    10 - How Long Will I Live?

                        (http://gosset.wharton.upenn.edu/mortality/perl/CalcForm.html)

                      Albert Camus famously mused “Life is the sum of all your choices.” Making sound financial decisions is paramount to living the life of your dreams and no one can make sensible choices without knowledge and understanding. Use these calculators to identify the impact of significant life events and take control of your finances.

                      Featured photo credit: picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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                      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                      In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

                      5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

                      Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

                      1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                      Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                      It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

                      Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

                      2. Keep Them Realistic

                      It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

                      It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                      3. Account for Inflation

                      Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

                      Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

                      For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

                      4. Short Term vs Long Term

                      Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

                      As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                      More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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                      5. To Each to His Own

                      The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

                      It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

                      By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                      11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                      Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

                      • Ensuring healthy savings
                      • Making smart investments

                      You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

                      Ensuring Healthy Savings

                      Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                      This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                      1. Track Expenses

                      The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

                      Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

                      2. Pay Yourself First

                      Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

                      Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

                      The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

                      Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

                      3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

                      Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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                      Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

                      At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                      Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                      You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                      4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

                      Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

                      If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

                      Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

                      All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

                      5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                      In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                      Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                      Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

                      If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

                      If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                      So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                      6. Talk About It

                      Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

                      Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                      7. Maintain a Journal

                      For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                      So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                      Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

                      When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

                      At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

                      Making Smart Investments

                      Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

                      8. Consult a Financial Advisor

                      Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

                      Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                      9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                      Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

                      Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

                      Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

                      It is here where that classification will help.

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                      So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

                      10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                      Einstein once remarked about compounding,

                      Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

                      So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                      Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                      11. Measure, Measure, Measure

                      All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                      If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

                      If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

                      Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                      The Bottom Line

                      This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

                      As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

                      More About Personal Finance Management

                      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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